Lebanon; Directed by Ziad Doueiri
Director: Ziad Doueiri
Producers: Rachid Bouchareb, Jean Bréhat, Julie Gayet, Antoun Sehnaoui, and Nadia Turincev
Cinematography: Tommaso Fiorilli
Editor: Dominique Marcombe
Composer: Éric Neveux
Distributor: Cohen Media Group
Release Date: August 31, 2017
Run-time: 112 minutes
FILM SYNOPSIS: Palestinian refuge Yasser, a construction foreman, is assigned to do repairs on an apartment building inhabited by Lebanese Christians, including mechanic Tony and his pregnant wife. The two men trade insults that escalate into violence, forcing the pair to grapple with their prejudices when the high-profile case goes to court.
The trailer for “The Insult” goes out of its way to mention the fact that the distributor for the film, Cohen Media Group, has also released the films “Timbuktu” (2014), “Mustang” (2015), “The Salesman” (2016), all of which were nominated for Best Foreign Language Feature in their respected years, with “The Salesman” even winning last year. That right there is a great strategy to get eyes on the film. The film itself is captivating. Although it has to do with the conflict and prejudices between the Lebanese and the Palestinians, it could really be boiled down to just about any demographic. I could even see an American adaptation involving whites and blacks or Mexicans. The films dives head first into a debate of right and wrong between two men that are not the most likeable guys, but that have tw0 distinct lives and who just happen to cross each other’s paths.
Tony (Adel Karam) is a Palestinian Christian that runs an auto body shop down the street from his home, where his pregnant wife lives with him. Yasser (Kamel El Basha) is a Palestinian refugee illegally working in Beirut as a foreman. During a job, Yasser is sprayed with water from Tony’s porch gutter, which is illegally spilling onto the sidewalk. Yasser offers to fix it and when Tony turns him down, Yasser and his team fix it anyway. Tony takes offense to this and smashes the new gutter. Yasser responds by calling him a “fucking prick.” What follows next is a botched apology, a trip to the emergency room, and spiraling of events that leaves Yasser and Tony locked in a courtroom battle with one another. The film is never dull and the true breakout star of the film is the actress that plays Tony’s pregnant wife, Rita Hayek, who is such a strong presence on screen that I am wholly surprised she’s not a bigger star than she is. Perhaps if this film wins, she will be.
At the moment, having only seen this film in the category, “The Square” is still the more known film. With “In The Fade” not getting nominated, which won the Golden Globe and could have made a case for winning the Oscar, the competition is pretty wide open. With all the other Oscar nominated foreign films under Cohen Media Group, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see “The Insult” actually win, but until I see the rest of the films, I still place “The Square” as the favorite just because of its wide exposure and ensemble cast which includes some American stars as well. It’s worth noting that this is Lebanon’s first Academy Award nomination, so perhaps if the Academy feels like giving them an Oscar on their first entry, this could squeak through for that.
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